Swearing on the Christian Bible

Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 01:55

Sir, – While atheists are understandably challenged if asked to swear on the Bible, the book, or rather collection of books, is increasingly becoming a problem for Christians too. The Bible contains some of the vilest racist, sexist and homophobic remarks in literature. It is inexplicable that female garda recruits, not to mention gay and lesbian gardaí, could hold this book up as symbolic of the values they intend to uphold. One can only assume they do not know all of what its written in it.

It is time to remove from this book all remarks that give offence to human beings. Just as we have regular constitutional amendments to remove injustices from our legal system, so too we should have regular amendments of all so-called holy books to remove all that is offensive to human beings from their pages.

In the gospel of St Mark (2:27), Jesus is quoted as saying that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” So too it might be said that the Bible was made for man, not man for the Bible. If there are offensive words within its pages let us have the courage to remove them so that the book might adequately serve us rather than we it. Yours, etc,

DECLAN KELLY,

9 Whitechurch Road,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 14

Sir, – Sean Alexander Smith (Letters, April 10th) finds it strange but true that the  Holy Trinity and Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ are referred to in the preamble of the Constitution. I don’t find it one bit strange. It simply reflects the religious and cultural heritage of the vast majority of the people of this island, going back to the time of St Patrick.  Understandably, at swearing-in ceremonies the Bible is used. Jewish or Muslim people can use their respective holy books , the Torah or Koran as the case may be. People with no metaphysical beliefs , such as humanists, can make a secular affirmation of allegiance to the State. So I don’t really see what the problem is ? In this pluralistic world there is room for all of us and no one need feel left out. Yours, etc,

JOE MURRAY,

Beggars Bush Court,

Ballsbridge,

Dublin 4

Sir, – I didn’t see any objections to Presidents Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela or Mary Robinson putting their hands on the Bible during their innaguration ceremonies. Neither were there objections to one saying “So help me God”, to another saying “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us” and the latter praying “May God direct me so that my Presidency is one of justice, peace and love.”

So what exactly is the problem with a new garda being allowed to do the same. Surely the New Testament, which Heather Abrahamson (April 8th) wants to exclude, is the great book of inclusion, where enmities and hostilities are broken down (Eph 2:8-18), where equality is proclaimed irrespective of background, culture or gender (Gal 3:28) and the message is one of peace and reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-19). Have we become so “modern” and “multicultural” that we should take offence at such things and choose to settle for the least common denominator for fear of upsetting the latest fad. Yours, etc,

SEAMUS O’CALLAGHAN,

29 Bullock Park,

Carlow